A prized possession sits in front of me. It’s small, worn and faded. I found it years ago, when I was working at the seminary. It was sitting on a give-away table.
I’ve always had a weak spot for books, especially when they’re free. So I picked it up and couldn’t put it down—a small hymnal, pocket-book size.
The stamp on the inside cover says “Property of Trinity Church, Vineland, N.J.” Title: The Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America 1940.
My relationship with this little book has been sporadic, though with a theme. It keeps me centered and focused when I’m going through tough times. I first appreciated it fully after I broke my jaw in April 2016. When I couldn’t find words or sleep, it offered something to calm my heart.
Now, in April 2020, I’m using it regularly. My life and death aren’t unfolding as anticipated. The hymn I read and sang today is spot on. It doesn’t offer a quick fix. It offers a joyful, realistic description for any day of the year—especially now.
Even if you aren’t overtly religious, these words might be for you, too. The sun doesn’t rise and set on orders from any human being. I find that immensely reassuring in these troubled times.
Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise!
Triumph o’er the shades of night:
Day-spring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear.
Dark and cheerless is the morn
Unaccompanied by thee;
Joyless is the day’s return,
‘Till thy mercy’s beams I see;
Till they inward light impart,
Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.
Visit then this soul of mine!
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief!
Fill me, radiancy divine;
Scatter all my unbelief;
More and more thyself display
Shining to the perfect day. Amen.
Words by Charles Wesley, 1740
© 1940, 1943 by The Church Pension Fund
Published in The Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America – 1940
Praying we’ll all make time to breathe deeply today, and be grateful.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 April 2020
Photo of sunrise in Acadia National Park, Maine, found at pinterest.com